Friday, April 19, 2013

Exchanging names

As a combination follow-up to the end of yesterday’s post and obligatory random anecdote for Friday, I present the following Tale From the Old College Watering Hole:

So there were (and I suppose still are) three or four bars within walking distance of my alma mater’s campus, two of which I frequented heavily enough that I could tell the difference between a slow night, a moderate night, a busy night and a night when maybe heading back to the dorms with a 12-pack of Natty Ice for a round of Drinking Uno might be the best possible call.

But there were some nights when, for various reasons, my friends and I would try to make the best of it at the bars despite the overcrowded conditions. I went to a smallish school, but these bars were also very small, so it didn’t take much for them to be packed wall-to-wall with bodies. Such circumstances are not entirely prohibitive for hanging out and drinking, but they do present a challenge whenever someone needs to move through the place, say to visit the restrooms.

The two factors that tended to bring out the biggest crowds were time and temperature; the closer it was to the end of a semester, the more people were inclined to go out rather than stay in and study, and the warmer the weather, the same tendency prevailed. One warm late spring night I found myself out amongst the thronging masses, and at a certain juncture I needed to avail myself of the building’s plumbing fixtures, as did a female friend of mine. Of course we were encamped on the outdoor patio, which meant we had to enter the building through a side door and proceed along a straight shot to the bathrooms, although said shooting ran the entire length of the bar. We shuffle-stepped our way through the body-clogged interior, basically trading places with one person at a time, until we reached the bottleneck in front of the cash register at the end of the counter. At that point we were two-thirds of the way to our destination but there was nothing we could do except stand in place, waiting for a transaction to complete and a paying customer to move one way or the other so that everyone else could continue shifting the tight-packed formation.

I had been gallantly leading the way through the crowd and allowing my friend to follow in my wake, and when we hit the standstill point I found myself face-to-face with a girl I had never met before; she had been trying to get by in the opposite direction but we were both equally halted. The evening had been proceeding long enough at that point that I was fortified with liquid courage enough to at least introduce myself to the young lady, if only to ease the awkwardness of being trapped in violation of one another’s personal space. She smiled back and said hello, and I asked her what her name was, and she replied “Desiree.” To which I literally threw my head back and laughed and said, “No it is not!” Because apparently I also had liquid confidence enough in my own opinions to be pretty sure that no one in the real world was actually named Desiree. It’s a lovely name, but totally fake, a stage name at best. And I can’t say I blamed the girl, giving a fake name to the drunken weirdo the crowd had slammed into her path. But at the same time I wanted her to give me some credit for seeing through her obvious ruse, and ...

... honestly I have no idea what my endgame plan was at that point, but luckily a couple of things happened all at once. My female friend intervened and assured “Desiree” that I was drunk and harmless, and the human sliding tiles rearranged themselves enough for us to go one way and her to go the other. And I never saw her again.

The connection to yesterday is simply that if I were to go with the PD-variations for my children’s blogonyms, then I might very well institute one for my wife as well, and I would be inclined to go with something like Patience Desiree for her. Patience should be self-explanatory (she is married to me, after all), whereas Desiree is, as I say, a lovely name, a little bit exotic with the component of inherent allure right there plain as day. Not that I think of my wife in any way at all as fake, of course. Though sometimes I do think of her as too good to be true.

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